New York Times profiles evidence-based education

The New York Times has published an article on the work of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) and the rise of evidence-based education.

The institute (an office in the US Education Department), aims to get real data about what works in education, particularly from randomised controlled trials, and shares findings through its What Works Clearinghouse website. Among those interviewed are Robert Slavin, a professor in the IEE (and Director of the Centre for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins School of Education), Peter Tymms from Durham University, and Jon Baron, president of the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy.

The article covers the history of the IES and considers the difficulties of translating the institute’s research into practical change. As Slavin explains in the article “It’s fascinating what a secret this is”. Instead, he says, educators are often “swayed by marketing or anecdotes or the latest fad.” However, he is hopeful of change. Despite little political drive in the US, the Obama administration has said its goal is to enable schools to use programmes that have been proven to work.

Evidence, evidence, evidence

In a recent speech, and an article in The Times, Shadow Education Secretary, Stephen Twigg MP, has outlined his commitment to “evidence, evidence, evidence”.

He proposes the creation of an “Office for Educational Improvement, independent of ministers, along the lines of the Office for Budgetary Responsibility that was set up by this Government.”

Mentioning the Coalition for Evidence-based Education (CEBE), he notes that “Teachers rarely have time to look at research and academics don’t always see the relevance of their work to the classroom so I will look at how we can work with organisations such as [CEBE].”

CEBE is an alliance of researchers, policy makers, and practitioners who share an interest in reforming the way research evidence is used in policy and practice.

Source: Evidence, not dogma: a smart way to raise education standards (2012), Labour